Jimmy Byrd and students
This was not to be a fund raiserride, but two things changed that. First, due to drought, we must build a water tower for the school and second, the Richard Mascarello family has offered to match any donations up to the total number miles ridden. So keep the water flowing for the kids and hit the donate button.

Also, instructor Kevin Lee is a auctioning off a 2 week paragliding course in southern Oregon to support the school.

See it here.

TO READ THE FLORIDA TO CALIFORNIA LEG CLICK here or go to lostboater.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 8, 2010


3637 trouble free miles on Big Red and I am home again.  Once again, I was shown what a great, vast and beautiful country America is.  Heck, I probably would even like Kansas if I could ride across it with temperatures not in the low 100's.

There were a couple of troubling things I saw on this trip.  First was the open racism from some people. More the one person referred to "that nigger in the White House".  Illegal immigrants were being blamed for everything. Second was the question I get a lot "aren't you afraid?". When I said "afraid of what?" they would reply, "well you know..."  The sad part about our country is that politicians, news networks and corporate marketing are exploiting and creating fears for their gain.  From undefined terrorist to scary germs to burglar alarms ad's to people that do not look like me,  people have grown afraid of "well you know...." life!

When I bought Scoot three years ago, I thought my first trip from Florida to North Carolina was going to be a monumental event. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ride across America on a Vespa. Crossing America three times in less than four months was not even fathomable.

I would say that is the end of the scooterdiaries2010, but you never know.  Next year I hope to get back to just meandering instead of long rides.

As always, I challenge you to get our to of your comfort zone.  You may be surprised that you really more comfortable there.

Day 16 last day out

This post was going to be; "got up, rode home, the end".  Did not work out that way as I met a few interesting people.

I started with the hotel breakfast.  Now I remember why I have not had a hotel breakfast on this whole trip. Big Red and I headed down US19 and since I have rode and written about this road before I will skip all that.

The first interesting person I met was Bill Wright.  Bill had been a commercial fisherman in California. He loved his job, but he sold out and retired. His wife had died two years ago and he was just sitting around the house watching TV. Stories of handicapped people traveling across American on foot or bicycle kept getting his attention.  The story that got him off the coach and on the road was a story of a young cancer patient that started riding across America, but sadly died before he complete the ride.  If the kid could do it Bill thought he should too. He had left California last January and headed for Key West and was now on his way back.  His goal was to be home before Christmas.  He camps and stays with friends.  Like riding on the scooter, he was seeing stuff he never would have seen in the motor home with his wife.  They hit all the famous places, but he was hitting just as wonderful places that you would probably never would see.  His example was Fanning Springs State Park were he had stayed last night.  It was beautiful, he said, with tarpon jumping out of the water at sunset.  He was also seeing the present downside of America.  There were 10 homeless families living in tents at the park. Asked if he had met any bad people, he said yes.  Some of the habitual homeless said are quick to steal from you, but at the top of the list was the whole state of Louisiana.  Louisiana is probably the hardest state to bike across and I agree with him.  The roads are horrible and there are no shoulders.  He said people seemed to take pleasure in running him off the the road.  He had been through 4 sets of tires, three tents and had had the most flats on the trailer.

While talking to Bill, this Harley police officer pulled up to see if we were OK.

Down the road I met Jack.  Jack had ridden his bike from Naples to Pensacola for a job.  The job did not materialize and he was headed back to Naples.

In Weeke Wachee, Fl. they have built a new school and the entrance road is named VESPA.
The pot of gold at the end of rainbow and a long wet ride today.  Thank you Vicki for being a wonderful and understanding wife.

pot gold at the end of the rainbow

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 14 and 15

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Since I would not be around for the 9AM breakfast, Macy had left me real coffee and some home made banana nut bread.  I woke earlier than planned but enjoyed a slow breakfast in the room.

Still, Big Red and me were on the road by 5:30.  Another day of riding through timber land and not much of anything to see.  The road had a nice canopy in the cool of the morning, but by the time it started to warm up, it was an open 4 lane.

about 100 religious signs. many made no since to me.

shade tunnel

SoSo, Mississippi

We arrived at the Mobile downtown airport about noon and my good friend Ed Quaid had just landed from flying BP personnel around the gulf looking for oil. He had one more flight to make, so I hung out at the airport until he returned and visited with his boss and told helicopters lies.

Killing time, I walked around and poked my noise in various places.  There is a cargo building who's parking lot is being guarded 24 hours a day by the national guard.  Not "really" guarded.  There are 2 guys at the entrance of the small lot and 2 at the exit.  I asked what was so important that the NG needed to protect and they said it was BP stuff. A lot of the stuff related to the oil spill, for some unknown reason, is provided military or law enforcement protection. Nice young guys are will be deploying to Iraq next year.

pfc whittington

Ed and I wanted to but Big Red in the helicopter and just fly on over to Apalachicola and have beer and oysters, but Big Red was having none of that.

Ed had to start searching for oil at the crack of dawn so we were on the road by 5:30 again.  I beat the Mobile rush hour but made parts of the rush hour at Pensacola Navy base and Elgin Air Force base. I had planned on going through the middle of the pan handle on Fl20 and miss the beach traffic, but Big Red was not having it and we found our way to the beach.

We hit several rain shower. Some were pretty heavy so we had to seek cover. The owner of this Harley was on a week long ride with his, son.  Sadly, yesterday they were informed that his 11 year old granddaughter had died totally unexpected.  They were headed home when his son laid his Harley down.  He told his dad he could not ride the bike home as his mind was not on the road. They renting a U-Haul and it was a wise decision.  It was a sad visit with the father.

I saw several oil clean up operations on the beach and booms in the bays, but the rain keep the camera in the pocket for the most part. Almost all the equipment I saw, and all of these trucks, were brand new.

I passed up Apalachicola and beer and oyster and continued on to Perry, FLA and the Hampton Inn.  This is nothing exciting town but has the Deal Oyster House (sorry no beer, how can you eat oysters without beer?) and the Goodman BBQ.  It is in easy striking distance of home in St. Pete.  The crown jewel is the Hampton Inn.  Great rooms, great staff, and most importantly great FREE happy hour for 2 1/2 hours.  It get my room rate back in Margaritas!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 13

heat survival riding day 4

When I walked out of the hotel in Hot Springs at 5 AM Big Reds temperature gauge said 87 and you cut the the air, as they say , the humidity was so high.  The first thing I noticed was the smell of the armoured jacket I was wearing.  Boy did I stink.  Guess it is time to do laundry again.

Off we go in the dark. By 6 AM we were well into timber woods of southern Arkansas. There was no traffic in my direction, but lots of trucks were headed to Hot Springs or maybe the rock quarry just south of the city. There is not much to see here.  Just timber land and after the early morning rush of trucks, very little traffic.  New Edinburgh was an interesting dead town complete with a "smitty".
(sorry for the less than great pictures)

In the very southern part of Arkansas it turned into rural farm land again, with soybeans, corn and rice. I came up on a crop duster strip or the politically correct term aerial applicator.  The ground crew was John lllll and Carlos Sciara IV.  Carlos III was flying the plane. John was a local and Carlos was the 4th generation Italian immigrant. Carlos I and just passed away, I believe, in the last year and Carlos II had been a farmer but now was selling farm land. It took about 20 minutes before Carlos III came in for a second load.
He was kind enough to come over and we talked for a few minutes.  He said their season was winding down and for the winter he went hunting and fishing..

carlos cleans carlos's windshield

pilot carlos takes time for a photo
I had told Carlos IV and John I had lost my hat back down the road.  They said I had to stop in and see Mr.Brian, the other half of  Sciara and Whittington, and they were sure he would give me a hat. I did and they were right and he gave me a hat.  Carlos said the season was slowing down but watching Brian in the office you could have fooled me.  The phone was ringing the whole time and he was taking business. He had been just a ground applicator but six years ago added aerial application.  Since then he said it seems like he works twice as hard and made half as much money.  Sounds like every aviation operation I have ever owned.  Brain was an interesting person.  He was born and raised in Eurado had never really left his town and did not want to. Even being a history buff and interested in civil war, he had never made the 75 mile drive to Vicksburg which is full of civil war history until a preacher friend came to Reno.

I had been traveling on AR 9 & 8.  They went from wide smooth roads with wide shoulders to a road that had been raked I think when it was paved back in 1910 and Big Red went weaving down the road  like a drunken sailor to a road that looked like this......

We crossed into Louisiana and ran in to a traffic jam.  I only got one picture of the jam, but there were two more on the road.

In Tallulah, LA I pulled into the little airport to use the bathroom and cool off.  There I met Dexter.  He had been in the Navy for eight years, but said he got on the wrong boat and was sea all the time.  He enjoyed working at the airport.  He thought he had grown up in the ugliest part of America until he started riding in planes of the area.  It gave him a whole new outlook on his home area.

Also based at this airport is one of the most expensive corporate jets in the world, a Gulfstream IV.  So, why is the executive jet based here in the middle of nowhere? Who pays for this fine piece of machinery?  It is here to fly the general from the Army Corp of Engineers and you pay for it. I appreciate the need for transport for personal and it can be a very valuable tool.  But I having been a passenger in a corporate jet, you quickly lose touch with the real world. So the question I have is, why to they need a jet that even many fortune 500 companies can not justify owning?

Big Red and me crossed the "big muddy", better known as the Mississippi River and pulled into Vicksburg, MS information station. I decided it was time to check in to a B&B again. I pulled out the smart phone, googled up B&B and picked one a random.  The phone rang the The Corners B&B.  I was trying to get back into being price sensitive again.  That last couple of days in the heat I had just picked the hotel that I got points and a fair, but not great, price.  I was going to be hard nose, but Joe the owner quickly disarmed me on the phone and I headed over to his place.  His wife Macy met me and checked me into a very large 2 bed room on the garden level.

I cooled off and headed out to be a tourist and have a late lunch/early dinner at Walnut Hill Restaurant.  Macy had recommended it and it was exactly what I wanted.  It was in an old house and one of the blue plate specials was meat loaf, 3 vegetables, tea, cornbread and peach cobbler all for the princely sum of $9. At the bar were a couple of local ladies that were having a great time.  Jeff, the manager, a very nice guy whispered that the blonde was his ex-wife.  A few minutes later she came over to talk and whispered that Jeff was her ex-husband.  A couple came in from, I believe Shreveport, LA.  The wife was standing at the table talking to the local girls and said they were coming back from Nirvana; Highlands, NC. The golf was great, the weather was cool, and then in a low voice, but load enough for me hear at the bar "and you know, no blacks".
(really bad pictures)

jeff and the ladies
I had planned to tour town but when I came out of the restaurant light rain was falling so I headed back to The Corners were it had not rained and did not rain.  I was setting in the court yard visiting with Macy and John, the resident handyman, when Macy offered me a frozen Margarita.  The Corners shot straight to the top of my list of the worlds greatest B&B.  Macy's parents were driving from Dallas to DC and stopped here and stayed in the B&B across the street in 1985.  In the morning, while her father was loading the car, her mother walked across the street and found that this house was for sale.  By 5:30 they had a contract and were in the B&B business. She and her husband took it over a few years ago.  After the drink she gave me a tour of the house and a great short history lesson on Vicksburg.  I will need to come here and stay a little longer.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 12

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Big Red and me were on the road by 5 AM to try and beat some of the heat.  I love early mornings and watching the world wake up.  I have seen lots wildlife like owls, hawks, and I think some falcons. Through Colorado and Utah the mornings were wonderful and since it had rained the night before, every day the smells were great.  Douglas fir, sagebrush, fresh hay or mowed grass, and the smell of the forest.  There were also the smell of the feed lots.  Feed lots are 10's of miles apart, but in Arkansas the chicken house's are maybe a mile apart.  And they are very smelly.

We cruised Eurika Springs, AK in the early morning.  A very touristy old town, but probably and interesting place to spend a night.

In Huntsville, we stopped at a local restaurant for breakfast.  It has the usual "table", but there were two unusual things.  One is there was a ladies "table".  There were as many 5 there at one time. Second, an older couple came into the restaurant and they both set at the men's "table".  I was quite surprised and it did not go unnoticed by the ladies table or the men at the table.  Several men made comments to the lady in a good humored manner.
And the ride continued in through the Ozarks. Kansas...you see those green things...they are called trees and they produce shade.  The shade is the black area on the pavement.  You can grow a bazillions bushels of grain but not a damn tree.  What's up with that?

South of Huntsville, AR I came to Humphin Cadillac Ranch.  They mainly make chopper motorcycles and hot rods.  Today they were only working on the bus.  In the 100 degree heat they were not real talkative.

In Subiaco, AR up on the hill, was a chatedrale and a large interesting building. It is the Subiaco  Abbey and was established in the late 1800's.  It has the abbey, an academy, a farm and guest facility that you can stay in.  Quite out of place here in the back woods of Arkansas. http://www.subi.org/Abbey/abbey.htm

The ride began to get hot. We were riding in the open country and temperatures on Big Red were moving above 100 degrees. Why do they measure the temperature in the shade?  Especially in Kansas, were there is no shade.  I made one last shade stop in the national park and then cruised into Hot Springs were it was to hot to be a tourist.